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The Yardbirds: A Brief History

 

The seminal U.K. Rock Band called, THE YARDBIRDS is a big subject, but I'll do a thumbnail sketch.Three legendary Guitar Slingers that fronted the band through the years: ERIC CLAPTON, JIMMY PAGE and JEFF BECK. Each made his bones in the group and then moved on.

 

Eric Clapton joined the band in 1963 replacing the original guitarist, Anthony "Top" Topham (How he must have felt to be followed by 3 Superstars while falling into relative obscurity). The first 2 singles with Clapton were duds, but the third broke the bank, it was called: FOR YOUR LOVE, a #1 in the U.K. and #6 in the U.S. Pop Charts that went Solid Gold. 

 

The problem for Clapton was that it was so Pop. Eric was dedicated to the Pure Blues and left to join John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. On the way out the door he called Jimmy Page about taking his place, but Jimmy was making a fortune doing sessions and passed. It was Jeff Beck jumped at the chance.

 

Beck was a very innovative guy and took the band in the psychedelic direction with fuzz tone, reverb, distortion, etc... giving The Yardbirds a whole new sound. During Jeff's lead they cut five hit singles including: "I'm a Man," and the iconic Yardbirds Album: "Roger the Engineer."

 

This is where it gets complicated; Beck asked Jimmy Page to play Bass after Paul Samwell-Smith got drunk at a gig and quit, so Jimmy Page, who happened to be at the show, agreed to replace him. Then they tour the U.K. with Jeff Lead Guitar and Jimmy Bass, and head for the U.S. to great response. But in San Francisco Beck fell sick and was hospitalized; so Page passed the Bass to Chris Dreja and took Lead.

 

Understand that each time there was fruit basket turnover they had to learn to play the other guys parts, and they were on tour. After Beck got well and rejoined The Birds they introduced the future: Two Lead Guitars doing Hard Psychedelic Rock and releasing the Classic Acid Tune: "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago," with future Zep Bassist, John Paul Jones on the session.

 

Are you beginning to see why I called the band "seminal?"

 

The players would go on to form and play in some of the greatest groups of the era. In 1968 with Cream and Jimi Hendrix recording remarkable Psychedelic Records, Page decided to leave and form what would become Led Zeppelin, and for all practical purposes The Yardbirds had died.


Former members would reunite and tour, but Clapton, Page and Beck were long gone. We found a well-restored video of the early Yardbirds on the American TV Show Shindig around 1963-64, performing Live their first Big Hit, "For Your Love," in B/W and HQ audio sounding better than it did on AM Radio. Rock On! @therealdonrocks

 

A version of this post originally appeared on The Don Rocks Facebook page. For more stories like these every day, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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